Friday, August 21, 2015
Author Advice: About that Boxed Set that pays only in exposure
I should be editing my novel which is due to the editor in the next few days, but why do that when I can procrastinate? So hi! Go put some Nutella on a spoon (my poison of choice) and let's talk about boxed sets!
Indie boxed sets blew up in a big way in 2014. For a while, they were the easiest of easy buttons when it came to hitting the USAT and NYT bestseller lists. You got a group of authors together, a good concept, a hot cover and you marketed the hell out of it and BOOM you had the sales numbers to be a bestseller.
Plus, at times, lots of money.
How do I know this? Well, here's my personal background with boxed sets: I've been the brains behind boxed sets and I've been the follower getting schooled on how to git'r done. I've 'lettered' three times with boxed sets. I've been in boxed sets that made well over six figures, leaving the authors with five figures in profit each. And I've been in relative flops that barely earned me $500. (Comme ci, comme ca. Le sigh.)
I have applicable experience, is what I'm saying. Which is why I'd like to bend your ear.
Even though many boxes never lettered, it seemed almost ridiculously easy once you'd been in one that had. The math was rather reliable in terms of the amount spent on ads, price points that moved copies, the volume of synchronized marketing required and how that all fed into the amount of books sold.
However, as more and more authors jumped into boxed sets, the market became saturated. As if that wasn't bad enough, Kindle Unlimited also began skewing rank as well as visibility and the NYT started 'overlooking' boxed sets more often than not. The easy street to an author's alphabet had closed by early 2015.
Boxed sets aren't extinct, though. Not by a long shot. They will forever be useful tools for reaching new readers and providing some extra revenue authors may not otherwise see. (And they can still become bestsellers, it's just not as predictable now.)
But there are boxed sets that don't benefit authors and I want to take a minute to talk about those.
Beware the boxed set that doesn't pay authors. I'm seeing more and more of these 'offers' that pay only in exposure. Or they give you a couple bucks and the balance is paid in exposure.
For authors who don't yet know how rank relates to earnings, these boxed sets may be tempting. Which is why they even exist. They're capturing authors who don't know better.
I want you to know better.
If you give away one of your stories to these exposure bundles and it ranks at 200 in the Amazon store for quite some time, you just lost out on four figures. How's that exposure feeling now?
Believe it or not, every boxed set I've ever done, I've made money AND benefited from exposure. You don't have to give up one to have the other. Everyone can and should win.
Know that you can make $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 or more on a huge breakout hit boxed set. You can make ~$500 on one that kind of flops.
Don't give away your work. Exposure boxed sets are not going to deliver anything you can't do yourself. They are not a short cut. They do not benefit authors.
If you're tempted to jump into one of these exposure only sets, interpret the urge as a sign that you're behind the curve on learning the ins and outs of marketing. Authors who know how to market don't need to give their stories away.
Money flows toward the writer and exposure is NOT money.
Some exceptions to the 'no money boxed sets are bad' philosophy:
1. Charity boxed sets, but be sure you can verify the money went to the charity and be aware the person donating gets one hell of a tax write off which is a financial benefit you will not see.
2.Boxed sets that serve other cooperative goals. Such as building a mailing list that everyone benefits from.